DETROIT (AP) — For the first time in over nine months, Max Scherzer stood in front of his locker as the losing pitcher, trying to explain what went wrong.
“I threw some good pitches, they hit it. I threw some bad pitches, they hit it even farther,” the Detroit right-hander said. “It’s a loss. That’s what happens when you don’t quite pitch as well.”
Scherzer allowed four runs in the middle innings, and for once, the AL Central-leading Tigers didn’t back him with much offensive support, falling to the Texas Rangers 7-1 Saturday night. It was Scherzer’s first defeat since Sept. 23. In between, he went 22 starts — 19 in the regular season and three in the postseason — without a loss.
Scherzer (13-1) was trying to become the first pitcher in the majors to start 14-0 since Roger Clemens in 1986. He allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings, walking two and striking out six.
The defeat came in his final start before the All-Star game — he could start the event next Tuesday night at Citi Field in New York.
“He probably wasn’t as dominant, but he still gave us a chance to win and kept us close,” outfielder Torii Hunter said. “We just couldn’t get any run support for him. Tonight, we failed him.”
Mitch Moreland’s two-run homer in the fourth gave Texas a 3-0 lead, and Derek Holland (8-4) was sharp for the Rangers. He allowed a run and five hits in seven innings.
Adrian Beltre added a two-run homer in a three-run ninth for Texas.
Scherzer entered the day leading the majors in run support, and that was no small reason for his unblemished record. He struck out three in the first.
Jurickson Profar’s line drive in the second caught Scherzer in the left wrist, and he showed reporters his bruised non-throwing arm afterward. The Detroit pitcher threw to first to retire Profar and was able to keep going.
“Right on the bone,” he said. “Obviously it wasn’t broken but it just affected how — you never realize how much you use your glove to pull through with your body. I was still able to pitch and pitch effectively and hit my spots, but it changed kind of how my mechanics worked.”
The Rangers finally put his streak in jeopardy in the fourth.
Nelson Cruz led off with a double, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly by A.J. Pierzynski. Scherzer then walked Elvis Andrus, and that came back to haunt him when Moreland lifted a drive to left-center for his 13th homer of the season.
Hernan Perez hit an RBI single in the bottom of the inning, but Pierzynski’s RBI bloop double in the fifth made it 4-1.
Scherzer did extend one streak. He’s struck out at least six hitters in all 19 starts this year. When he walked off the mound after the third out of the sixth, a few fans behind the Detroit dugout gave him a nice ovation, presumably sensing his night was done.
Scherzer threw a season-high 122 pitches.
Holland, meanwhile, lowered his ERA to 3.08, which is actually better than Scherzer’s mark of 3.19. Holland started the Rangers’ 11-8 victory over Detroit on May 19, allowing two of Miguel Cabrera’s three homers in that game. He kept the Tigers quiet Saturday in front of a sellout crowd of 44,061 at Comerica Park.
Holland walked five and struck out seven.
“Scherzer was 13-0 for a reason. He’s got great stuff,” Holland said. “Today I made pitches when I needed to and I thought my defense did a great job making plays and saving me. It’s up there with the big games this year.”
Texas starters are only 10-13 since the beginning of June, even after Holland’s solid performance.
Detroit’s rotation, meanwhile, has been among the best in the game — and Scherzer has certainly contributed his share. He’s a big part of the Tigers’ efforts to win their third straight division title.
“I believe in my talents and I believe going forward that I’m going to put together other streaks as well,” Scherzer said.
NOTES: Ian Kinsler set a Rangers’ record with his 162nd career steal, breaking a tie with Bump Wills. … Detroit’s Victor Martinez left the bases loaded with a third-inning strikeout and had his hitting streak snapped at 14 games. … Tigers ace Justin Verlander (9-6) starts Sunday against Texas LHP Martin Perez (3-1).